John Aerni-Flessner deposited Digitally Documenting Urban Renewal in Lansing, 1930s-1960s in the group Digital Humanists on Humanities Commons 2 years, 6 months ago
In this article we trace the history of Urban Renewal in Lansing through a collaborative research project involving undergraduate students and the course instructor. Looking in fine-grain detail at the block and individual house level, the project reveals the patchwork of discrimination that African Americans faced in accessing housing in the mid-twentieth century in Lansing. Showing how this discrimination also thwarted the inter-generational accrual and transfer of wealth, the research highlights why the wealth gap persists between African American families and those of European descent. The article also argues for the pedagogical benefits of doing collaborative research with undergraduate students. Being able to produce publicly-available history benefits local communities and helps students see the value in humanities research in ways that typically classroom experiences cannot. So, this article traces both the changing urban history of Lansing in the early and mid-twentieth centuries, and the ways in which faculty, students, and community partners can collaborate to unearth hyper-local histories that have contemporary relevance for public policy and understandings of community dynamics.